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BJP stuns Ajit Jogi in Chhattisgarh newsdesk/PTI | December 04, 2003 18:46 IST
Last Updated: December 04, 2003 21:04 IST

Ajit JogiChhattisgarh Chief Minister Ajit Jogi shutting himself inside his official residence Karuna best sums up his reaction to the BJP relegating his party to second position in the assembly elections.

Pre-poll surveys had lulled the Congress into believing that it would retain the state. What made it certain, from the party's point of view, was the nation watching former Union minister Dilip Singh Judeo accepting money on television. Besides being one of the BJP's chief ministerial aspirants, Judeo was the most high profile leader the BJP had pitted against Jogi.

The BJP had vowed to end the 'reign of terror' unleashed by Jogi while the latter made the election into a referendum on his performance of the past three years.

By Thursday evening, it was apparent that the result in Chhattisgarh would be one of most amazing of this round of assembly elections. While the BJP was on its way to securing a simple majority, Jogi had shut himself inside his official residence refusing to talk to anyone.

Current Results

  Assembly Position
Congress   Others
BJP   Undeclared
Reflecting the party mood, the Congress party office was deserted. All the action was at the BJP's office, which was teeming with party supporters and mediapersons.

From the results, it became clear that the BJP had made deep inroads among the tribals of the state who were at one time considered staunch Congress supporters.

When Jogi finally emerged in public towards evening to address mediapersons at the party office in Raipur, he was hard put to explain the setback. He attributed it to the drubbing in Naxal-infested areas where the party did not win even one of the 20 seats at stake.

He also denied any fault with the distribution of tickets or that most of the defectors who joined Congress from the BJP lost. "The real reasons will be known once we analyse the result," he said.

The chief minister tried to evade broaching on the Judeo factor, but after persistent queries said, "Everybody saw Judeo taking money on the tape and it must have had some effect."

He got away with this explanation in Raipur, but will have to come up with something better when he faces the Congress leadership in Delhi.

Congress supporters admitted in private that the result was a vote against Jogi.

But he can take some comfort from the fact that Judeo is out of the reckoning in the chief ministerial stakes and so is Leader of Opposition Nand Kumar Sai who he vanquished in Marwahi.

The BJP had not projected its chief ministerial candidate though there were at least three contenders: Judeo, Sai and Union Minister of Coal and Mines Ramesh Bais. Another senior leader Karuna Shukla had ruled herself out of the race offering to help the party come to power.

Now another contender has emerged. It is Raman Singh, president of the BJP's state unit.

The BJP has all the time in the world to go about its business because Jogi seems to be having difficulty recovering from the shock. When reports last came in, Jogi had submitted his resignation to Governor Lt Gen K M Seth (retd).

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